States worst hit by Brexit 'should not pay EU's bill'
Ireland and other countries set to suffer the most from Brexit should not have to help plug the hole it will tear in the EU's budget, it has been claimed.
Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said countries on the EU's periphery would be hit hardest and should not have to also pay the bill.
Mr Hoekstra told Dutch TV station RTL Z: "A small group of countries on the west coast of Europe is hit very hard in the economy by Brexit, which applies primarily to Ireland, but also to the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and a number of other countries.
"It cannot be the intention that those who already experience the damage of Brexit will also pay the bill."
While the remaining 27 EU countries are maintaining a united front in Brexit talks, national interests diverge when it comes to the future trading relationship and splits are starting to emerge.
The Netherlands is one of the EU countries keenest on securing a trade deal with the UK that doesn't harm crucial commercial trade ties between the two countries, whose ports face each other across the North Sea.
Mr Hoekstra's comments came as the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Joe Healy warned that Irish beef, sheep and tillage farmers will go out of business unless strong subsidies from Brussels continue.
Ahead of crunch EU negotiations on the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, Brexit and climate change, said it would be a defining year for farming.
"Now is the moment for this Government and our Taoiseach to show their mettle by standing up for the CAP.
"We cannot have a situation where EU farmers have their incomes cut because the UK decided to leave," Mr Healy warned as he addressed the 63rd IFA Annual General Meeting.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is set to reaffirm Ireland's commitment to membership of the EU in a special address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.
The request for Mr Varadkar to deliver a speech to MEPs came due to Ireland's position as the state most significantly affected by Brexit.
Mr Varadkar's address will list EU membership as the central reason for Ireland's economic success and social progress. The Taoiseach will also point to the fact that Ireland was once a "small island on the periphery of Europe" but is now "an island at the centre of the world" because of its access to the single market.